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Ricardo Cortes Education. (2013) 'A Secret History of Coffee, Coca & Cola.'




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U.s. 27, Coca-cola 10, Colombia 9, Latin America 9, U.n. 8, United States 7, Peru 5, Hawaii 4, Us 4, Europe 4, Ricardo Cortes 3, New Jersey 3, Washington 3, Georgia 3, Etc. 3, The Coca-cola 2, America 2, Pemberton 2, South America 2, Clinton 2,
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  CSPAN    Book TV    Ricardo Cortes  Education.  (2013) 'A  
   Secret History of Coffee, Coca & Cola.'  

    January 20, 2013
    7:15 - 8:30pm EST  

the gao says at least half of that will be wasted. in other words, it will never get completed and do what it's supposed to do. we had a program in the air force that we situate to cancel this. you ought to cancel this because it's never going to work. here's how an efficient government is. this last week we spend another hundred million dollars before they canceled it. they paid a settlement fee of $8 million. but two things didn't happen. the person responsible didn't get fired and wasn't held accountable in the company that didn't provide the service didn't get sued to get our money back, taxpayers of the country.
nobody runs their household that way. the state government don't operate that way, but we are totally incompetent when it comes to spending america's taxpayer money. why would we continue to a $32 billion a year on i.t. programs that don't work for the federal government. but 60% of what they take out of the pentagon and that's governmentwide. why would we do that? were going to have a special senate committee to look at this, oversight, look at bad actors in government and demand the people get fired in the company is not performing pay the money back. none of that happens. so you can defraud the federal government. you can do it with impunity and that's because members of congress are basically not willing or inexperienced to not
know you want to hold people accountable for what they say they're going to do. whether it's a federal employee, procurement employee for the company provided. that's just one example that happened this week. >> host: what is the business started? >> guest: my father was in the business and i started a plastic lens class lines in intraocular lines division of that and i did that in southern virginia. at the tip here for 10 years. >> host: does that company still exists? >> guest: it was sold. portions still exist.
>> up next, ricardo cortes with "a secret history of coffee, coca and cola." >> and now, ricardo cortes attacks that attempt superheavy of coffee and coke around the world. to keep the coca-cola company supplied with coca while
simultaneously punishing to ban its use worldwide. this is a little over an hour. >> okay, so tonight we are pleased to welcome ricardo cortes to discuss his legal book, "a secret history of coffee, coca and cola". secret formulas, special flavors, special favors in the future prohibition. cortes is the creator and illustrator as books for all ages were mostly all ages such as marijuana, timing and the jamaican bobsled team. his latest book examines a series of highly addictive substances that have caused many deaths and through much, much profit in how they make their way in the u.s. senate u.s. government through his then in ensuring they come into this
country. we are pleased to be joined by two drug policy experts. i tsl assigned to a tree and a senior fellow at the washington office on latin america. without further ado, i want to hand it over to the panel. [applause] >> thank you so much for coming out here. i'm really excited to be in new york. i'm going to start off by talking about my book and number go into a little bit about which focuses on cocoa and cocoa powder to see and with its going on at the u.n. and in the history of the tree that prohibits coca around the world. my book started out as a children book. it started as a follow through children's book i did about marijuana in 2004, 2005. it was in a book about teaching kids how to smoke weed, but an
educational book about how they might talk to their kids about a difficult subject with him i don't run into. so that's where the format is an illustrated picture book for kids. as i got into the subject and started looking into train, which is relevant to some children's lives. their children but pickett, families involved in the oppressive policies to eradicate coca and it's a social or cultural issue. as i got deeper into the history of coca and specifically with relationships of the coca-cola company, origins from a medical marvel to the drug problem we have today, it got really complicated and so now it's a book for adults. i also started in coca with
coffee because they wanted to do a comparison is not in that fascinated me with the way the drugs, plants change their perceptions over time for the cultural perceptions, the legal, social perceptions. as inspired by michael collins spoke about body of desire, where he talks about the history for different plants. when apples came to this country, they want the fleshy fruit we all know today, but were used for fermentation purposes. people get trunk and people wanted to be in the apple. i looked further and found other plants similar and today you say that's incredible that it was the witch's fruit or potato solution of problems with it. obviously coffee was fascinating
because there is a great origin myth of coffee and eventually questions to the hope that it, the religious legality of it in times where coffee was banned, coffeehouses were shut down. sometimes for health reasons, but also political reasons. so i saw that this coffee with another plant with an alkaloid as his principal active ingredient, caffeine of the coffee. something that went through the cycles of experimentation and then prohibition and obviously acceptance. coffee is legal in most parts of the night takes today. so coca is a similar plant,
sometimes picked on the same mountain fed by the same people and they both have an alkaloid as it principal ingredient. they're both in their pure form powerful stimulants. caffeine is toxic in its purest form. and so, i just wanted to make a comparison and that's why i went so far back to go to the history of coffee and get a little into the history and that's when it crept into the question of coca-cola, something that always fascinated me because i grew up with those rumors. was there ever in coca-cola? and started to take the cocaine
out. they met a maker, boucher for who basically was the person who would take out they cocaine and new jersey. as we can talk about today, the pharmaceutical company is still there today. you can go on the dea website and see how they have to register to import coca life and register for the production of a controlled substance. so i went into that history to basically find out that coca-cola has been getting access to coca leaf for the past century. for this all comes together today and what we would get into is the coca became prohibited around the world through one of
three treaties that now dictates the international drug policy in the first one is the 1961 convention on narcotic drugs and that was the treaty that today still says bolivia is supposed to eradicate their wild coca bushes we have to stop the chewing of coca, something that's been going on in south america for thousands of years. the coca-cola company had a role in negotiations of the treaty. i went to the national archives and what you see a lot in this book is illustrations of the pictures i took in the archives of the documents. instead of writing all the words out, i found boxes and boxes of documents and the personal files with the of narcotics and took photographs of them and then illustrated them. so what you see in the book is rather than retell the story of
words, i re-created these documents and correspondence that happened over decades and decades. between harry and singer, who you may know as the architect of the campaign against marijuana. that was one he was really act they been successful in cohabiting marijuana. at the same time, also the point man for the federal government in his negotiations at the u.n. to codify the laws against coca. what was happening, was in constant medication with the company primary for the vice president, vice pays, who really got to feel the relationship between them over time. they just had a really interesting parlay between each other. so that's the beginning of an overview of the book.
i want to pass the mic back and forth and i think we're going to have questions for each other. but that's the beginning. >> at evening. i'm at the super policies were around the trip policy there. i was once asked to check to a group of high school students in the literature resume and background and came up with the topic and you had to speak to the topic. this being a high school dance, they wanted here but sex, drugs and international relations. at that home-equity type these things together. it didn't dawn on me until the last minute and i realized the way to tell that story was through the story of columbus, who i considered the granddaddy of international drug traffickers. how you see the world depends
where you say, where you stand, perspective. i went to reframe this discussion in ways that not think very often. the story of columbus after the space route to asia, looking forward a shortcut and he was interested in gold and spending religion, but primarily it is about spaces. whatever space is so valuable that then? wasn't just the food was terrible in europe. and it was, but each new exotic spice was thought to have certain properties. each of these new spaces where the today. so that's one of the reasons by the trade became so valuable and people risk their lives to explore these themes. so after the conquest and
colonization, exporting drugs back to europe in this hemisphere as well. by drugs i mean sugar, which many people consider a job, where we get from is definitely a drug. coffee, tobacco, tea and aphrodisiac spaces. these things became the developmental and system. vast fortunes were created. think about where we are today. what was the colonial economy? these are all drugs. ..
and now we have turkish coffee, english tea time and of course of the fortunes that drove a lot in the european development. and so, long story short the reason have the world got colonized in some ways is because a bunch of old white men in europe couldn't get up so there you have sex, drugs and international relations but i tell the story because what we consider drugs is important so when the white males of european ancestry that drafted this 1961 convention got to read some of their favorite drugs that they
got accustomed to policy, alcohol, you know, all these things they love to do. but coca was something indigenous people used and is the attitude that made them say this is forbidden, this causes degeneration, this is terrible stuff. but coca in its natural form is a very beneficial and relatively harmless. it's a very mild stimulus in my opinion and my personal experience two cups of coffee basically, so this thing that's hard to get across people in the united states these policy makers is that coca isn't cocaine. indigenous people shouldn't be punished because some people refined into cocaine and abuse
state and there's great value and this is an ancient tradition that doesn't harm people and the arrogance by which the foreign policy traced to dictate terms and countries like bolivia less than 1% of any excess cocaine in bolivia and set in the united states. and the heavy-handed nature of the policy would think this is some kind of a flood from bolivia the way that we dictate terms in this country. now imagine if the united nations and the u.n. convention were to treat coffee the way with the content they treat coca what would happen if they tell oblivion's chewing coca which they'd been doing for centuries if not thousands of years imagine if they did that to the united states you have to give up this habit now.
she was a major that went to elmhurst college, and in 2001 he comes by europe with the administration to secretly them coffee for one day without notice during finals week as a project so all these students get up in the morning and there's no coffee in the bookstore area sold on campus and they have friends dress up in trenchcoats as drug dealers. you want to buy a shot of espresso? $6. and people were actually buying this stuff and in cbs news come all this stuff, so that is the kind of outrage that you would expect of someone told you you could no longer consume your favorite beverage stimulant coffee, and that is i think you begin to understand some of the indignities and outrage when the ignorant people, other people decide they can't chew coca anymore. and then finally, i would say
this treaty 62-years-old now the u.s. and a small number of other governments say that we shouldn't revisit these treaties as though they were carved in stone so much has changed. would any of these governments defend the views on gender equality, on the sexual orientation were indigenous rights or race relations based on 52-year-old attitudes? of course not. we have evolves, our views have changed the have become better and the same people the drug warriors who want to protect their turf are saying no we must never revisit these conventions. they should be set in stone for all of time and of course that time has come to change these things. we will talk more about these i'm going to turn this over to claudia. >> thank you. is this on have? i would like to offer a few more
reflections on the release and then talk primarily what's going on with efforts to reform the international drug control convention and then i will conclude with some thoughts on the growing movement for drug policy reform. what i really like about the book apart from the illustrations, which are great, is how she reveals the hypocrisy of the so-called war on drugs and one of those that was pointed out is how coffee is treated differently than coca and i would even go further in saying that my own experience is that coca is a mild stimulant, but it doesn't have the image that coffee does so you could drink two cups and you could go to sleep without any trouble leader that might. if i drank two cups of coffee in the afternoon i met half of the night. i can't sleep. it doesn't give you that half an hour after you drink a cup of coffee you kind of crash. coca is a very mild stimulant and house the variety of
nutritional values, so apart from the fact it's been used by indigenous people from the religious, cultural and nutritional reasons and medicinal reasons for centuries now there is an effort taking advantage, the advantages that it offers not only in bolivia but also in colombia so a processing plant that is built in the coca growing region of bolivia and have the opportunity to sample some of their products and they have a marvelous coca liqueur and a variety of energy drinks. as a drink in colombia which is a great flavor but again it's not like drinking red bull. it's a very nice kind of stimulant. it would be much better for you. there's a variety of breads and
rolls and there's also this is the bag that is basically cheese puffs the government is distributing to kids through a free breakfast program. the folks at the plant went on about how great these were. i thought they were all full myself but i guess the kids like them and i also confess that i hate the taste but there are a variety of products that have very good uses and should be available not only in these countries but also on the international markets there's a variety of uses beyond what the uses for flavoring another that ricardo points out to in his book is related to the conventions. i was struck this relationship
between the u.s. drug czar for decades and the president of coca-cola very cozy relationship, so in the end of the 1961 u.n. single conventional the narcotic drugs and the subsequent 1988 convention make it a criminal offense under the international law so while coca-cola is the use for a flavor and and indigenous people across the andes or told the traditional practice of coca and a drinking coca wouldn't be tolerated by the international community and it's important to point out that the u.s. was the architect of these treaties and certainly had support from other countries. today the have key allies in their efforts to maintain the treaty such as russia, japan, sweden, but it really is a u.s. instrument. so, coca along with canada's and opium became the main targets of
the 1961 convention. this historical error as i like to call it was basically justified by the 1950 report on the commission of inquiry on the coca leaf which has pointed out is a totally racist document. it has absolutely no scientific evidence. you can find it on the web now you will be outraged if you read it yet it is the basis for the international drug control. subsequent to that in the 1990's, the u.n. world health organization carried out a study of the who carried out eight study of coca and cocaine and they concluded the use of coca appears to have no negative affects and has positive therapeutic and social functions for indigenous indian populations. and there are a variety of other studies including one that points to the nutritional value of the coca. but in response to the study,
not surprisingly, the u.s. government led the charge against it. it dhaka and your review and was never published although again, you can find on the internet. the 61 convention also calls for the elimination of the coca shooting within 25 years of the going into force of the convention and that period ran out in 1989. in the meantime, the international community adopted the declaration on the rights of indigenous people which calls for the respect of the cultural traditions and the medicinal practices of the indigenous populations. for many countries including the united states the of basically accepted the idea of the indigenous use of coca leaves. you can get coca in the embassy in order to help deal with altitude sickness. they only took it away after others started pointing out that it was readily available at the embassy. yet despite the changes, the
u.s. government and other governments have refused to allow any changes to the international conventions and any changes that would correct this historical wrong. turning now to the efforts to change it, but the election as president of bolivia who as you know marks the real turning point in bolivia's's relations in the international community, and in terms of the government's policy towards the coca leaf. basically the administration adopted that coca yes, cocaine no approach. they eliminated the force to ratification strategy that had led to so many human-rights violations, social conflict and replaced that with a program of voluntary social control which has actually had better results than the previous policies and a better results than in neighboring peru. in 2011 there was a 13% decrease
in the production in that country according to the to this government. but with regards to the international convention the government began a campaign to try to correct this historical error and the first thing they did with everyone agreed with was to try to amend the 61 convention by removing the two sub paragraphs that basically say it needs to be abolished in the 25 year period that has now patched some years ago. they simply wanted to delete those paragraphs. without any objections, bolivia's's request would have been automatically accepted but not surprisingly the u.s. led the charge to oppose the amendment to the convention rally in what they called a friends of the convention group of governments 18 in all which objected the effort so in
response to that the bolivian government decided to withdraw from the 1961 convention and we had here with a reservation regarding the traditionally and illegal uses of the coca leaf and the way that process works is that one third of the member countries would need to formally object to prevent bolivia's reappearance to the convention a year later and in fact tomorrow is the deadline for the countries to oppose bolivia coming back into the international convention as midafternoon today i know of 13 countries that have objected and the u.s. is the first to object and i'm sure there will be a few more in the next 24 hours but at this point it's obviously not likely or highly improbable that you get the 62 that you need to prevent bolivia's returns to one the one hand to the
international reservation on the leaves, but only affect bolivia. it doesn't affect the convention. some internationally, this historical run has yet to be collected. they were objected this change would lead to a greater supply of the available coca and would lead to more cocaine and drug trafficking. that argument is of served on so many levels i'm not even going to go into it. their fear is this is going to be the beginning of more serious changes to the conventions and that other countries are going to follow suit. other changes to the outdated documents, these documents will open a pandora's box of attempted reforms, and i think frankly that the sifry is in to be concerned they are afraid
marijuana is going to be next. why not? they've proposed the regulating markets for the candidates in that country. that is very likely to pass in the next six months within uruguay to have the legal markets if it does to really just legalized marijuana and colorado and washington. we were at a forum yesterday that was co-sponsored with the brookings and one of the panelists said the u.s. should withdraw from the convention and react here. obviously not likely to happen, but the u.s. is now at odds with a very international convention that it created. and there is more and more impetus for the reform coming from particularly latin america which has borne the cost of the u.s. war on drugs. increasingly officials are saying why are we implementing these policies that have made things much worse in our country in order for the u.s. consumers to have less drugs available to them? that just doesn't make sense.
for the first time you have sitting presidents as opposed to colombia and guatemala calling for a serious debate on the drug policy reform. there's been a series of initiatives that we can go into detail on in the discussion period that is coming from the region. but most significantly, at the request of mexico, colombia and guatemala at the u.n. has just approved by holding of the u.n. special session, the u.n. general assembly on drugs which will take place a few years from now 2016 but will provide the next really serious opportunity for the convention reform. who knows what will happen? it is too far out. but there is clearly a move for change and that is why the u.s. government is so nervous. thank you. >> i want to tell one more story
as you were talking and reminded me of. so as you were saying that coca-cola company was aligned with harry to codify the special access to the coca company got that access in the 1961 single convention. as a come after that happened, the coca-cola company's have legal access to coca now but it was always a little problematic for them to be -- to ensure they would always have access to coca. they are changing governments in latin america. they never know if they are going to have so they want to try to grow coca in the united states. so they could have better access to it and also to get i think the code was the one to have greater agricultural knowledge of the plant basically to be able to tinker with levels of cocaine, with the different flavors so they asked the federal government after this
convention as retired from the commission he retired at the end nd and we had a new commissioner and the coca-cola company asked him we wanted to grow in the united states now can we work something out here? and so as long allies for the coca-cola company they said yeah, sure, what do you want? what you think of the u.s. virgin islands? yeah, sounds great so they went to the university of hawaii and contacted the president and the university of hawaii and said we want to start a pilot program to grow on the u.s. soil. we worked out of the legalities even though it is technically not legal this is a matter of scientific research. the president of the university of hawaii said that's a great but we can't keep it secret. we can't take the name of the project. we are a public university. so, unless it was a matter of
national security or something. and so, the federal bureau of narcotics was like it's a matter of national security. so they're like okay sure it's a secret now so this project went on and started in 1964 and went on until 1984 they were growing coca in the university of hawaii. the funny part about this and why i bring this up is what ended up happening really was that the coca actually didn't really grow very well and in fact it must have died. some 1984 the abandon the project and the u.s. department of agriculture took over the project because they wanted to find out why it was dying and they eventually figured out there was a fund is that was taking over the coca and was calling this coca to read and so the dea took over this project because they wanted to develop this on this as a way to eradicate coca. so, i find out one little story is just a marvel because it really i think encapsulates the whole relationship that's going
on here. we have this belief that indigenous people are denied access to that we've heard it has lots of nutritional, social, medicinal value to people and they denied access to this leave but you have multinational corporations that are granted special privileged access so they can use the same to make billions and billions of dollars and that's what they did and then they start this experiment so they can make more and it doesn't go so well for them and chants from that project into a way to eradicate coca back in the amazon. the last i heard i think it was president clinton who said that dea was asking to release this fungus into the rainforest president clinton said know what time the last i heard in 2007 as that they are still looking into ways of abusing this on this as an eradication method and it
sounds a fee to me releasing the funds into the rain forest to see they are some powerful factors and not to others i want to throw them to an estimate on the u.s. embassy their own website use to recommended the travelers landing. in the airport at the plateau of the city is even higher so the lt is about 40% of what you would have at sea level so you suffer terrible sickness and extreme fatigue. you don't want to do anything
the first two days unless you can zoom coca product is whether it is chewing coca or having a the candy that is at the airport and that will allow you to acclimate to that altitude and so it is and what you feel when you to the coca. it's what you don't feel. you don't feel ha but you don't feel the altitude and get those headaches and it's a very benign product. one more point about the perception when the spaniards started heading south they had indigenous people that had the most chilling coca and they thought this must be the work of the devil. it's a green and slimy. they band it and so they went to the biggest silver deposit in the history of the world. a mountain in bolivia,
14,000 feet high and there was no way to force indigenous people at that altitude without coca. and so suddenly the church did of one ag and instead of being the gannett became a mandatory impact and perceptions about things change. as you know colombia has a range of impact in that region and the amazon and to end with an anecdote of the u.s., former u.s. ambassador to peru in the late 80's told me a story once they had allowed fumigation programs in the country. they were trying to convince
perot so they brought a delegation i think it was to georgia to show them how they would do this for a man they started a little presentation to watch these men in astronaut suits covered from head to toe with the sample. we will end on that. >> by a show of hands we will bring a microphone around so everyone can hear your question and then we will start our discussion. anyone want to kick us off with a question? comments for the panel, something you want to share, doesn't matter. okay i will start here in the back and then come up here. >> i was just wondering the spread of the coca leaf because of the 61 -- or redo the aerial
spraying fumigation we've destroyed millions of acres of coca in the rainforest and fireman's in the world where literally squashing there's the alana of the earth but our politicians look like is that columbia bigger than texas and california combined the same is true of bolivia and peru these are large land masses to eradicate coca and to have a war on dandelions' good luck it's not possible. nonetheless gave them the sun columbias after 12 years of spraying and the eradication 12 years ago 90 percent of cocaine in the united states originated from columbia after a dozen years of intensive drug war in colombia about 95% of u.s. cocaine originates from columbia whereas less than 1% originates from bolivia and the libyans
have done much better in terms of the ratification of excess coca and interdiction in cocaine transiting from peru and argentina and other countries and their own as cocaine. they've captured and seized more of that in the previous governments that were subservient to the u.s. interest so by any objective standard of the valenciennes have done better than the previous governments get our state department still denigrates their efforts at least in public. but they did the revocation in bolivia. there's been manual forced eradication and peru as well which is very, very violent and difficult to stomach. i used to think the manual eradication might be a kind of gentlemanly to do it in using these toxic herbicides to be spread over columbia so i went to the tiemann columbia and i watched them do this where the national police literally hold the family members at gunpoint at their little shack while the
team of 40 men come in within a half-hour or destroy your livelihood and approved the trees and bushes and what happens is you force these people into food and security in the bolivia for the long time was the poorest country in south america. there is tremendous poverty. when you destroy their only source of food security, they panic. when i going to feed my family next month, next year, what is the one crop and they know how to grow that is relatively easy to transport and like pineapple and others that need refrigeration and all this kind of stuff for which there are willing buyers and that of course was coca, the guarantee they are going to panic and replant more so the cycle of eradication, replanting and conflict was finally broken by the administration that granted the right to grow a personal amount to each family is allowed to grow but artful enough to
guarantee a modest income for family you can send your kids to school and it's very basic things that can save a little money and start to diversify the economy to revive seen these villages it was a conflict of insecurity, more the same friends, latter, repeat. basically ineffective. now i go back to the same towns and they are flourishing. the economies are diversified because they now have some food security come some predictability they are able then to invest a little bit of money if they have experience will do a little hotel or car repair shop or whatever and that's how you get these economies that diversify. it's counterintuitive but it's like the recession here in the united states as long as people are insecure and they don't know what tomorrow was going to bring the are not going to take risks
or investor. diversify the economy. >> i would like to congratulate our speakers. i am the one who serves and had some interesting insights that i learned and i congratulate you for your very provocative presentation. .. >> you have a lot of nice contributions to society from using coke in these middle class
sec or to haves as well. it struck me, too, that pursuing this peril with marijuana could be productive in working on changing attitudes, perceptions working towards policy changes since marijuana, there's so much movement on that right now. americans are thinking about it. the more you can drive parallels from the coca situation to marijuana, it seems it's going to be very productive and enlightening to people and help them think about it in different ways. i wanted to ask very specifically in the 196 of 1 convention, did it call for also the 25-year elimination of consumption of marijuana, and what were the -- how is it that defined those goals? was it similar to coke, or is that some other nuances? thank you. >> um, thanks, kevin. i would just like to point out that the bolivian government is delighted that the u.s. is now out of line with the conventions, as they are as
well. with regards to the '61 convention, it was just coca. it doesn't call for the elimination -- it, of course, makes illegal the growing and consumption of, actually, it's the '88 convention that makes growing illegal. but the growing and consumption -- growing and production, not consumption, excuse me -- of marijuana, coca and poppy. poppy has got -- there are a variety of exceptions for poppy. and just to be clear on this concern, i'm not explaining it clearly, the conventions make production and trafficking illegal. there is nothing in the conventions that makes consumption illegal. so, for example, the dutch can have coffee shops -- dutch coffee shops where you are able to consume marijuana, that technically does not fall outside of the conventions. what falls outside of the conventions is the people who sell the marijuana to the dutch coffee shops. but as i said, it was this, a special commission on the
inquiry of the coca leaf that was, led to such dramatic action with regards to coca. >> yeah. i think marijuana is a very good illustration of how things change generationally. i do believe marijuana is a gateway drug. it's a gateway to becoming president. every president we've had since 1993 has abused our drug laws in very serious ways, some of them even possibly crossing the mandatory minimum territory, but that also speaks to the entire generation of our lawmakers, right? so newt gingrich, susan molinari, rick santorum, a lot of these -- al gore. you know, they've all consumed marijuana, they've all admitted doing this. in fact, it's harder to find people now who came of age in the 60s and '70s who didn't use recreationally. you'll recall the 2008 primary
where they had the wanna byes on the stage, anderson cooper said raise your hand if you've never used marijuana. joe lieberman had to sheepishly raise his hand. [laughter] the hypocrisy under which these are voted and written on, the same people who violated the laws are now voting on more of these laws. and the question has to be asked, in your life and your career, why is it so good for these other people, particularly people of color and in other parts of the world. it's coming full circle now. we can't avoid this question much longer. >> thank you. enjoying the presentation. i had a question about where the pharmaceutical industry is in all of this, um, and if they also like the coca-cola relationship with the drug czar? because i'm assuming that there's a lot of pharmaceutical products that rely on the coca, the codeine and all these other products. i don't know, like, where does
that -- where do they get their supplies, and are they also aligned in kind of setting themselves up very nicely where also there's more of these draconian policies in place on people? >> uh-huh. well, i can't speak on the pharmaceutical companies at large. you might be able to chime in on that. um, i do know that, um, the process that the coca-cola company outsources to the company in new jersey, um, basically to get the flavor as, extract that they use for coca-cola, you take the coca leaf. they import tons of coca leaf. they've imported hundreds of tons of coca leaf over the last century. and then there's a process to extract the cocaine. so what comes out of that process is a really fine grade of cocaine, probably the best cocaine you'll find in the united states of america is manufactured by this company at the behest, basically, of coca-cola. and i -- the last, um, the last
verifiable quote that i could get was that they were selling it to the pharmaceutical industry to a company, pharmaceutical company. i'm not sure if that is where it still goes, but cocaine has been historically used as a local an stettic, a topical anesthetic, and there's still some use for it in the medical industry, although for the most part cocaine has been now replaced by synthetics like novocain. but there's still some medical use for it. >> [inaudible] for one country only or is that something that -- >> where the coca comes from? the coca comes from peru. >> [inaudible] >> yeah. i'm not sure if they ever got coca from bolivia. i heard that morales talked about that that was happening. i've never seen, actually, the evidence of it, but i've heard that it did come from bolivia as well. but peru is primarily where the coca comes from.
now, where it goes to after that, it goes to new jersey. i'm also curious, and i haven't been able to discern this yet, and it's actually a follow-up investigation as to are there other countries where coca-cola has been able to do this. in my research i was in the national archives, i was following the thread where they were trying to do the same thing in the u.k. and just a couple years ago, um, trace elements of cocaine were discovered in red bull cola in germany. which leads one to believe that, e yes, this has been going on in other countries. it's not only the coca-cola companies in the u.s. that has access to these coca extracts, but red bull got it at one point and didn't do such a great job of taking the cocaine out, so much so that there was still some that they found. >> i would just add that, in fact, the international drug control conventions were set up to, um, allow access to -- and monitor access to controlled medicines. so i don't know a lot about this. there are people who follow it very closely, but, yes, the
international narcotics control board is specifically tasked with overseeing the export and importation of what are otherwise illicit drugs in order to insure that people have access to painkillers, basically. and it's primarily poppy-related, opium-related, but also there is a small market of controlled cocaine production very heavily monitored by the incb for that purpose. >> and we have a question here. >> yes. i'd like to get, circle around back to the not avoiding the question, and that question is what do we do politically? and i have a small opportunity here for people if they're interested. there is a special election coming up, and there's one candidate running on the green party platform which says stop the war on drugs and normalize
recreational drugs. now, i do have some petitions here that you can sign later. >> so the question is, you know, what do we do? from a policy perspective, if you don't -- how many people have communicated with their elected officials to express their views on any subject? good, good. very civic-minded group. a lot of people in this country, however, don't. and can they think, oh, there's nothing i do do to do -- can do to do this. when i was in high school, i had a good civics teacher who said your job is to show up and vote every four years, every two years if you're dedicated. but, in fact, there is a whole tool box of things we can do at the local level. there's a tremendous amount of leverage you have if you know how to build effective coalitions, how to communicate with legislators effectively. history is made by those who show up, so if you sit on your
couch and just complain, that pretty much guarantees things won't change. on the other hand, if you start learning how to ask for meetings with your representatives, how to write an effective letter or build a coalition, then you become the squeaky wheel. because elected officials, members of congress don't have the opportunity to take polls of their district every time there's an issue to be voted on. and so they want to know what kind of letters are we getting, letters to the editor, local paper, you know, op eds and columns, how many faxes did we get from constituents, how many phone calls, how many people came to visit? and so they extrapolate by that. and there are very few people on the other side these days pushing for more drug war. but, you know, so this gives us an advantage in terms of representing ourselves. but that means you have to get involved. and if you don't, then it's a lost opportunity. >> yeah. and i just want to add a little story. in the research of this book, i reached out to the coca-cola company several times.
at first under the auspices of writing an article about the flavor profile of coca-cola, and i was talking to the director of worldwide communications about i drink coca-cola myself, talk about how much i like the flavor, this and that, we're getting into all that, and then when the question of cocaine, the rumors of cocaine come up, they just shut down. there's a stop line. he actually told me it was a stock line, he said this is what i say every time someone asks about that which is that the secret formula is one of our most valuable assets, so we get to hide behind this veil of secrecy by claiming, you know, that it's part of their plan. that's their plan. and, in fact, it is their plan. you can go down to the coca-cola, you know, museum down in georgia and the secret formula's behind a big bank vault, you know if it's part of, like, the allure of coca-cola, is that it's a secret. but another time i reached out to coca-cola because they have a
twitter account that is doc pemberton. it's dr. john pemberton is the pharmacist who invented coca-cola. so now they have a twitter page for him. he speaks in an old time language and talks about riding on horses. so i sent him a drawing that i had done when i was a child. when i was 8 years old, i was still into coca-cola, so i sent him a picture. oh, that's great, i love it. i wonder what you can do now? well, i can do this. i sent him another picture of a pemberton wine coca bottle which is what koch -- what coke was before it was coca-cola. the irony, it was prohibited before cocaine was in georgia at the time. that's when they added the calf fee, and that was the cola nut, the west african cola nut. so i sent in that picture, and he's like, oh, doc pell bear tennessee's like that's great, too, i love it. don't show the polar bears, they
might go after you. basically, i was trying to reel him in. actually, i have another question about the convention on narcotic drugs -- [laughter] and how do you feel about how coca-cola has access to coca and yet, you know, the indigenous people aren't allowed to have it, etc., etc. i was doing this on a twitter feed that at that point he didn't answer. [laughter] and it's funny, because his avatar, the little -- the twitter page, his avatar was actually like shh, like a secret, you know? [laughter] so i did that just so i could illustrate the entire dialogue afterward as a way of just interfacing with these companies. and i had actually planned to keep knocking on their door asking about this. yeah. >> we have a question here. okay. all right. question here, and i know the woman over there as well. >> hi. thank you so much, this has been really fascinating. i was wondering if you guys could tell us if you could set
your ideal, um, policy for the war on cocaine specifically and, like, illegality of cocaine in the u.s. right now, like, what would that policy be, and how does that fit in with all of this that you've talked about? thank you. >> well, i think you'd get a lot of different responses to that within the drug policy e reform movement -- policy reform movement. and i want to underscore that there is a drug policy reform movement here in this country and also in latin america. and particularly in latin america that wasn't the case a few years ago. with regards to coca, i think it's a no brainer. there is absolutely no reason coca should be prohibited in international law, there's absolutely no run that countries -- reason that countries should not be allowed to market coca products internationally. there's no reason that coca-cola should not be allowed to use their coca flavoring and, of course, other countries should be allowed to do the same.
the amount of cocainal coidz in the coca leaf is minuscule. it's tiny. it's very small. so it does not pose any kind of danger when used in its natural form. um, i do think that there is an issue with, um, you know, the people who grow coca are some of the poorest people in latin america. these are poor farmers with small plots of land, and i think we have an obligation to help those countries bring those people out of poverty. and that means comprehensive, equitable rural economic development programs in areas like the bolivian cha par ray along the lines of what sanho was saying earlier. with regards to cocaine, um, i think you -- that's where it gets trickier. there certainly are people who would advocate for complete legalization of drugs across the board. my own personal opinion is that, one, drug use should not be illegal. we should not be putting cocaine
users or users of any other drugs in jail. two, i think we need to experiment with marijuana legalization so that we begin to have some body of scientific evidence to see what happens when you legalize, first, a drug that is much less dangerous and what we can learn from that for looking at more dangerous drugs such as cocaine. and more addictive drugs such as cocaine. and i also think we need to fundamentally revamp our drug laws. this is an issue i work a lot on in latin america. we have created a system where we put in jail primarily small scale drug dealers, the guys -- the girls and boys selling the drugs on the street corner or running drugs back and forth or the people inside andean countries who are transporting drugs. these people aren't making a lot of money off of it, and the day you arrest them, they are replaced by the drug trafficking organizations. yet they go to jail in this
country and particularly in latin america which has adopted across-the-board in many countries harsh u.s. drug laws. they can end up with 20 years in jail. just one example, ec what -- ecuador which really is a minor player in the international drug trafficking network. the maximum sentence for murder in that country is 16 years. the sentence for drug trafficking is a minimum of 12, maximum of 25 years. and it doesn't distinguish between your level of involvement in the drug trade. so you go to jail in ecuador, and you find people who were selling drugs on the street corner who had a judge that was in a particularly bad mood that day or was worried about getting his u.s. visa renewed and gave him a sentence of 20 years, and he ends up in jail for longer than somebody who has committed murder. it's just ridiculous. so we need to do a major reform of our drug laws to insure that sentences are proportionate to the crime committed.
i know you probably want to add to that. >> yeah. i would just add, you know, the way we talk about this is difficult in the united states. you know, americans, we're a very simple-minded people, we like simple answers, unfortunately. black or white, yes or no. which team do i root for? menu a or menu b? but, in fact, there's a spectrum of regulatory possibilities. we -- the poverty of our political discourse that prevents us from having a meaningful discussion about this issue so that, for instance, the inuits, the eskimos have some two dozen words to describe snow. snow's important to them, right? it's life or death. and increasingly it's disappearing. but that was the richness of their vocabulary. and yet we hold democracy to be so valuable in this country, so much so we're going to export it and invade other countries and impose it, but we only have two words that describe democracy in the country, right? democrat or republican. and if you dare vote socialist or libertarian, you're viewed as
some kind of fringe freak or something like that. and it robs us of choices. and so we are not allowed to consider the spectrum of regulatory policies even in human politics, for instance. in the history of the human experience, we've had everything from totalitarian fascism on one end to anarchism on the other end and everything in between. every human society has found different ways to organize its culture, economy, its politics, and yet we're not allowed to consider any of those human experiences other than these two, you know, close points on the spectrum, democrat or republican, that are increasingly so close together kate moss couldn't squeeze between them. [laughter] and that carries over into the way we talk about drugs. either yes or no, legal or illegal. but, in fact, legalization is a word that i think is, it's become radioactive. drug warriors have had many decades to define it the way they want to define which is anarchy, right? when i've debated in the past, they hold up a false dichotomy:
earth you support zero -- either you support zero policy or you're accused of wanting to sell heroin as candy machines to children. each drug should be treated differently, right? now we have a one size fits all, it's all illegal. and so we have to experiment and find out which policies work best for each particular drug. stimulants are a bit more problematic, but we need to find out to what extent our war on cocaine in the '80s helped spread a poor person's version of cocaine, crack. and to what extent did our war on crack help repopularize the poor person's crack, meth? each time we end up with a more difficult to stop, more problematic, more dangerous drug, right? and this is a lesson we should have learned from alcohol prohibition. there are many lessons we haven't learned from alcohol prohibition. it helped transform a nation of beer and wine drinkers into a nation of liquor drinkers.
if you were a bootlegger during the alcohol prohibition, the last thing you wanted to smuggle was beer. a giant keg of beer? it's got a very low return on your investment, and you're going to run the risk of going to prison. so you wanted the most pure form of alcohol imaginable, whether it's grain alcohol or hard liquor. but given choices, how many of you are drinking liquor tonight? to the extent you're drinking alcohol, it's beer or wine, right? the drug warriors would say, oh, no, people will always gravitate toward that. yet any of you can go out to a liquor store and buy grain alcohol. how many of you have tasted grain alcohol since college? [laughter] right? people don't want that stuff. you actually prefer the milder stuff. so this idea the drug warriors try to drive into our minds, i think it's a false one. >> just to underscore one point there which is flexibility. one of the big complaints about the international conventions is that the u.s. within the -- with the conventions and in its
policy towards latin america has basically pushed a one size fits all policy designed in washington. and what countries are saying is, hey, our reality may not be your reality. uruguay is a tiny little country of three million people that has really a primarily urban population with solid institutions which has a very good capability to actually create legal regulated markets for cannabis. why can't they do it? why should the international drug control convention say that uruguay can't do that or colombia can't do that, etc. so what we really need here is a regime that allows for flexibility, that allows countries to experiment with -- or even states in this country -- with what they think works best for them. >> and we have one -- oh, did you have a comment? >> i'll just quickly add on. what we could do with the billions of dollars that we invest in the prison infrastructure, that gets transferred into education, and then people make wiser
decisions. i think, like you said, i mean how there's access to meth, these dirty, cheap, bad drug cans. if people were able to get access to much more benign drugs like marijuana, they might make decisions that if they had the education to know that this is actually a healthier choice for you. it's a harm reduction model. we might never get rid of drugs completely, but they are safer alternatives to the worst options. >> we have one last question for the evening, and then we're going to have to wrap up this portion and move on to the book signing. so the last question for the evening. okay. i wanted to thank you, very, very good presentation. and i think you presented a very good case where the coca leaf is innocuous or even beneficial substance. however, it is true you get cocaine from the coca, and cocaine is quite a, um, well, it's a substance where you can
make a lot of money. and you've got the drug cartels involved in that. how can you control the growth of coca without getting the drug cartels involved and keeping it from being processed into the cocaine that can be, obviously, a lot worse in terms of effects on a society compared to the coca leaf? >> you know, i think this is one of the most important concepts to get across about the war on drugs, and that is why are these substances valued? why are they worth so much? cocaine, heroin, marijuana, all these drugs, they're very easy the produce. they're cheap to produce. and in a legal market, they cost pennies per dose, and yet they're astronomically more expensive. a lot has to do with our policies of prohibition. as long as there's high demand, there's an inexhaustible reservoir of poor farmers and smugglers whether driven to fund an insurgency, for whatever reason they get into the drug economy they think they'll get
away with it, and most times they do. but it's the risk, right? the more wees calculate the war on drugs, the more value we build into this economy. so that you can buy a kilo of pure cocaine in colombia or for maybe a thousand or $1500, by the time you smuggle it to the streets of the united states in our major cities, by the time the dealers cut it into little gram bags and dilute it, you can get 100,000 or 150,000 for even more for that exact same kilogram. if you sent it by fedex, it would cost you maybe a hundred, two hundred bucks or something? but instead we keep escalating the drug war, and the greater the risk to each trafficker along that smuggling route, the higher the likelihood they get caught, the greater the threat to themselves, the greater risk premium they can charge the next perp down the smuggling line. so through the drug war we actually create a tremendous indirect price support, if you will, for drug traffickers.
and so the people who -- the last people who want this drug war to end are the traffickers themselves, because without it they're basically transporting minimally-processed agricultural commodities that don't fetch a lot of money, and the drug warriors. it's a symbiotic dependency they have. they both need each other to keep their jobs and maintain their livelihoods. so if you legalize, if you ended the drug war, you take away the risks, and suddenly it becomes like any other agricultural commodity like aspirin. >> i'd just like to add a slightly different perspective of to that looking at it from the perspective of if your goal is to disrupt the cocaine market, what's the best way to do that? what we've seen, as i think san sanho pointed out earlier, is going after the coca leaf has very little impact on the cocaine market. there's some interesting studies done in colombia in bogota, and basically they conclude, you know, complicated economic cost
benefit analysis and concludes that money invested in eradicating coca has almost no impact on the cocaine that is produced and ends up here. finish if you are going after the cocaine industry, you're going to get a lot more bang for your buck going after the criminal organizations, going after the, after -- in, um, going after cocaine shipments, that sort of thing. and, in fact, what we've seen in bolivia is the government has put a greater priority on trying to interdict the cocaine itself as opposed to forced eradication campaigns. although they have -- they do carry out volunteer coca e eradication. so i think you have to look at, you know, where do we want to target our law enforcement efforts, and should it be the small farmers growing coca, or should it be those criminal organizations and the people within those organizations who are making the best profits, um, from the illicit business? and finally, i would just like
to reiterate what sanho said which is, ultimately, it's demand that drives this process. the u.s. continues to be the world's large consumer of illicit drugs, and if we really want to be serious about impacting the drug trade, we have to put a lot more money into treatment and education programs here at home distinguishing between recreational and problematic drug use which is another thing that relates to the question about, you know, better drug policies and, ultimately, look at this as a demand-driven problem. >> and with that, i wanted to conclude our presentation this evening. i want to thank our panelists, and i want to thank all of you for coming out. [applause] >> here's a look at some books that are being published this week.